You want to know whether the Hawaii State Board of Education violated the Sunshine Law at its meeting Tuesday?

You’ll have to wait.

The state’s Office of Information Practices says the case is so complex that it requires more than the general advice the office provides through its “attorney of the day.”

The meeting was highly charged because of the controversy over the Department of Education’s flip-flop over social studies graduation requirements.

Open government advocate Sen. Les Ihara had sent OIP a letter before Tuesday’s meeting that the agenda didn’t fulfill public notice requirements. Attendees raised similar concerns.

“Discussion/Recommendation for Board action on the proposed amendments to Board Policy 4540 ‘High School Graduation and Commencement Policy'” was not descriptive enough, they said. In order for members of the public to understand and provide informed testimony on what the board would be discussing, some said, they would have had to read two digital attachments to the agenda — one of which was posted only the day before the meeting.

Several people also testified that there was a wording discrepancy between the recommendation memo — which was posted six days before the meeting, per Sunshine Law requirements — and the actual policy, which was not posted until the day before the board meeting.

After consulting in private with the state attorney general’s office, board members proceeded with their vote on the new statewide graduation policy, expressing confidence that they had properly “sunshined,” as Chairman Don Horner put it.

Civil Beat followed up to see if the Office of Information Practices agreed with the attorney general’s opinion. After several exchanges back and forth on Wednesday, attorney Linden Joesting told us on Thursday that the case will require extra attention if we want a response.

“Your question concerning the validity of the BOE agenda from (Tuesday’s) meeting is more appropriately handled by OIP as a request for an opinion because it requires more than general advice that our office provides for ‘attorney of the day’ inquiries,” she wrote in an email. “If you want an opinion, please let me know so that OIP can proceed accordingly.

“Please be aware however, that we have a backlog of cases requesting opinions,” she added. “And as I mentioned yesterday, OIP has been working on new written guidelines for agendas and minutes that we hope to complete next month.”

We have requested a formal opinion.

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